05/22/2002 11:00PM

Proven turf commodity meets promising foe


CHICAGO - Proven turf ability meets prospective turf ability Saturday at Hawthorne when Maliziosa faces Sarah Jade in the $100,000 Summertime Promise Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Maliziosa has spent her whole career racing on grass, and three weeks ago won the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs. Sarah Jade has never raced on turf, if for no other reason than she's never had a chance. She didn't start her career until turf racing in Chicago had ended last year, then spent the winter at Oaklawn Park, where she ran well in main-track stakes races.

Eight 3-year-old fillies were entered in the Summertime Promise, contested at 1 1/16 miles. There are no quick throwouts among them, but on form the race boils down to two options, Sarah Jade or Maliziosa.

Third in the Honeybee and second in the Althea, Sarah Jade has been pointed to this start by Hugh Robertson, who trains her for Jer-Mar Stable. Tuesday, to give her a feel for the surface, Robertson worked Sarah Jade a half-mile on grass. Her breeze around the dogs was timed in 51.60 seconds, but Robertson isn't making too much of it.

"I thought she worked okay, but I think they almost all look good working on turf," Robertson said. "It's in a race they need to move up if they're going to be a grass horse. They need that finishing kick."

Robertson isn't pointing to Sarah Jade's dish-shaped feet, or the action of her legs, as an indicator of turf ability.

"Basically it's hit and miss," he said. "I think horses that have a quick move, a good eighth of a mile, anywhere in a race, are the ones that do well. She has that."

Maliziosa, who ships in from Kentucky, already has shown it on grass. She won a first-level allowance at Gulfstream in early April with a quick burst on the far turn, then used a similar move in the stretch to take the Edgewood.

"I think she's getting better all the time," said Ralph Nicks, trainer Bill Mott's Churchill-based assistant. Maliziosa returns to racing fairly quick for a developing 3-year-old filly, but there's little choice in the matter. "It's quicker than we wanted, but then you run into the availability of races," Nicks said.

Chris Emigh has the mount on Sarah Jade, who should race close to a solid pace, while Rene Douglas rides Maliziosa, who tends to lag well behind the leaders before launching her move.

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